Amboseli, a Masai name meaning ‘a place of dust’ is a small and a very popular park scenically situated at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Amboseli is elephant country par excellence. You will see them in large herds. Predators, apart from hyenas and jackals, are relatively scarce (lions are almost absent, thanks to the revenge wrought by the Masai upon the expulsion of them and their herds from the park but good numbers of herbivores are present.

In the dry season, most of the animals crowd into the impenetrable marshy areas and patches of acacia woodland where food plants are available.

But during and shortly after the rains the picture is different, the animals more dispersed and the landscape greener. In the dry season, Amboseli can seem a parched, unattractive place, with Kilimanjaro disappointingly hazed into oblivion.

During the rains, however, it all looks far more impressive, with the shallow and seasonal Lake Amboseli partially filled, and a number of other seasonal lakes and ponds – the temporary home of small flocks of flamingos, pelicans and other migratory species – scattered across the landscape.

Elephants at Amboseli National Park with Mt. Kilimanjaro in background


Amboseli is renowned for its large herds of free-ranging African elephants. There are over 900 African elephants in Amboseli. Most of them congregating in the swamp area where plenty of water and food is. Sometimes, you will see a calf & its mum walking along the road and it’s a good idea not to get too close to the young because the adult is over protective of its own.

View of Mt. Kilimanjaro

You simply cannot ignore the awesome presence of Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli. Standing at 5,895 meters (19,340 ft), it is also the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

To best view the snow capped peaks, you’d have to see it early in the mornings when the cloud descends below the peak. Mornings are especially great to watch the sun slowly illuminate the mountain side with a warm pinkish glow.

Watch the Sunrise/Sunset

Get up early in the morning for a breathtaking view of the sunrise in Amboseli National Park. You’d have to be up and out by 5.30 a.m to experience dawn. One advantage is that some shy animals are already awake and wandering the plains before the assault by tourists! Sunsets are beautiful too, when the sky turns orange with a tinge of blue over the horizon.

Dust Devils

The Amboseli area is like a giant dust bowl, vast & dry and that’s why most animals are seen at the swamp. As the hot air quickly rises near the surface through a small pocket of low pressure, it picks up the dry dust and forms “Dust Devil” which resembles a mini twister. These Dust Devils may not be dangerous but they can be uncomfortable when they hit you.

The Swamp

A huge swamp which covers a large part of Amboseli National Park is fed by underground rivers from Mt Kilimanjaro melting snow. Even when there’s a drought, the swamp is constantly wet which is why this area is always teeming with life. Elephants & hippopotamus enjoy soaking in the cool water and are never short of food. You can also find other animals wading through the swamp e.g. buffaloes, zebras & wildebeest. A great place to view the swamp is from the top of Observation Hill.

Great Views from Observation Hill

Amboseli National Park is predominantly flat except for several rocky outcrops and a small hill where you can get fabulous views of the national park and Mt Kilimanjaro. Observation Hill is great as a lookout as well as a place to take pictures. You can see for miles and it’s quite breezy. The big swamp, where all sorts of animals congregate, is right at the foot of the hill. There’s a path leading up the hill and it is not too challenging.

Masai Village

This is usually optional in the safari package and it’s for those who would like to have a feel of the Maasai life. The residents of the Maasai village will then welcome the guests with their traditional dance where they will invite them to participate. You will get a briefing of the village and the people, and demonstrate some fire making technique. You will also get a tour of the village, complete with a visit into one of the huts made of dung & straw. The inside of the hut is very dark and a small hole in the wall allows minimal light in. After the village tour, you will be led into the village market where you will be approached by the Maasai to buy their local craft.

How to get to Amboseli National Park

By Road: From Nairobi, it takes about four hours to get to Amboseli. 

By Air: Safarilink offers daily flights from Nairobi Wilson to Amboseli. The direct flight time is 45 minutes. Air Kenya also offers daily flights. 

The drive from Kilimanjaro Airport (Tanzania) JRO to Amboseli is just under three hours, in normal conditions, and from Arusha to Amboseli is closer to four hours.